Literary Baroque in the 17th century

The Counter-Reformation, which began around the middle of the 16th century, caused Bavaria to largely distance itself from the Protestant north. The Roman Catholic south and the Jesuits appointed by Duke Albrecht V (1528-1579) now shape the Bavarian cultural landscape. In addition to the old prelate monasteries, the Jesuits who were appointed to Munich and Ingolstadt, Neuburg, Dillingen, Landsberg and Augsburg acquire a special status and their literary activities flourish. Among them is Matthäus Rader (1556-1634) from San Candido in South Tyrol, court historian Maximilian I of Bavaria (1573-1651) and Jesuit in Munich, of whom there is an unusually extensive correspondence. Teacher of an entire Jesuit generation (Jakob Bidermann [1578-1639], Jeremias Drexel [1581-1638], Georg Stengel [1584-1691]), Rader not only documents the lively intellectual exchange of the Jesuits among themselves with his collection of letters, but also fulfils the ambitious claims of Maximilian I to consciously create a Catholic cultural policy. Rader's Bavaria Sancta, a Latin collection of Bavarian saints' biographies, is eloquent evidence of this.

The Latin Jesuit drama undoubtedly belongs to the most important genre in the Baroque field of conflict between this world and the hereafter for the purpose of religious upheaval and conversion. The pioneering Catholic baroque poet in Germany is Jeremias Drexel from Augsburg, a successful author influenced by Spanish models during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). His baroque drama "Julianus Apostata", written in Ingolstadt in 1607/08, deals with man's pride and punishment by God. Drexel's Latin treatises, which deal with the basic themes of the Christian doctrine of salvation and vices such as lies, slander and hypocrisy in allegories and extend far beyond Bavaria as a result of European translations, are also noteworthy.

Jacob Balde (1604-1668) may be the most important Latin poet of the Bavarian Baroque. His "Sylvarum libri VII", the "Seven Forests Books", printed in 1643, contain a wealth of secular and spiritual poems, partly in the guise of idyllic shepherd poetry. Balde wrote numerous odes and epodes in Munich from 1637.

The seven-volume "Rhitmorum varietas" are less well known. Typi, exempla, et modulationes rhythmorum (1646-1652) by the Seeon Benedictine Johannes Werlin (1588-1666). The systematic combination of metrical schemata and melodic types with examples of foreign and own, mostly German, poems of secular and spiritual content results in Bavarian Baroque practical poetics. With the arrival of Italian poets around 1650, Munich retreated more and more as a literary centre; from then on, sacred literature was sustained by the prelate monasteries and parishes in the countryside.